January 27, 2021

Advent with Christina Rossetti (3)


The third Sunday in Advent is Gaudete Sunday. In the midst of the Advent fast, we encouraged to rejoice in the Lord.

This day has a counterpart in Lent: Laetare Sunday. Both come just past the midpoint of a penitential season and are designed as merciful reprieves from the demands of fasting so that the Church might be encouraged in the feast to come. On both Sundays, the purple vestments are swapped out for pink or rose-colored ones, and the theme is joy and rejoicing. The introit for Gaudete is Philippians 4:4 — “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice”

This gives us an opportunity to meditate on one of Christina Rossetti’s brighter, more joyful Christmas poems. Though she is known for painting word pictures of the season’s bleakness, she also contributed lovely texts that enthusiastically celebrate the light, joy, and warmth of Christ’s coming.

One of my favorites is this lyric she wrote for Christmas Eve, which effectively sets forth the contrasts of the season in a way that brings light out of the darkness. And what makes the difference? — “Jesus, born for us so low.”

db_Christmas_Traditions0191Christmas hath a darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Born for us so low.

Earth, strike up your music
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
For all the Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

For this joy, we eagerly wait!


  1. Christina’s poetry is amazing, on this Gaudete Sunday!


    That is all I can add.

  2. We just finished celebrating our first Gaudete Sunday ever. It was special!

  3. Thank you so much for posting these. I love poetry, but have not really paid much attention to CGR for whatever reason (so much poetry, so little time, I guess).

    Your posting of these has been fantastic and has added a new favorite poet to my ever growing list.

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